By Tina Comeau
The superintendent of the Tri-County Regional School Board said Friday, Jan. 18, that overall the comments they are hearing from staff regarding the air flow at the Yarmouth high school have been positive.
“The decrease in staff absences is reflective of this positive feedback,” said Lisa Doucet.
From earlier this month when, on some days, the amount of staff absences had numbered over 20 or in the high teens, last week the numbers were down. The numbers of staff out for the week were:
• Jan.14 – 11 staff, which included nine teachers
• Jan. 15 – 11 staff, which included eight teachers
• Jan. 16 – 12 staff, which included nine teachers
• Jan. 17 – 11 staff, which included nine teachers
• On Friday, Jan. 18, there was no school due to a cancellation caused by the weather.
There have still been student absences, although flu-like bugs have been circulating in the community and have been affecting schools throughout the region. Doucet said some of the staff absences at the high school last week also could have been attributed to things other than the air quality issue that’s been affecting the school.
“There are varying reasons for staff absences throughout the week,” said Doucet. “We feel very optimistic that things are moving forward and the conditions at the school have improved. The safety of students and staff is a top priority.”
Last week the board and the high school posted the latest air quality report, prepared by Teritt Indoor Environmental, on their websites. The report showed that air quality testing had not raised any alarm but that the school’s air ventilation system had not been working properly and it meant some classrooms were not receiving enough fresh air. The school’s humidifier system was also not properly commissioned.
Since last fall many staff, as well as some students, have complained of symptoms including burning eyes, sore throats, difficulty breathing and fatigue. The school board says it is acting on the recommendations that were contained in the Teritt report.
“The work on air handlers and the balancing has been completed. The lighting in classrooms is being checked. The IAQ tracking mechanism is in place,” said Doucet, who added that work was scheduled to begin on the humidifiers last Friday.
“The plan is to have students involved in the development and implementation of a scent reduced policy at the school,” she added.